Social Work News

Thursday, February 17

In Memoriam: Frank H. Ware

Alex Gary, Assistant Business Editor, Rockford Register Star

Reprinted from the Rockford Register Star

ROCKFORD — Frank H. Ware, 64, a champion since the 1980s for treatment of people suffering from mental illness, died today of natural causes.
 
Ware took over the Janet Wattles Center on Feb. 13, 1989. Under his direction, it grew into a $13 million-a-year organization with 225 employees treating 4,500 adults and 2,700 youths annually.
 
In 1999, Janet Wattles received the Register Star Excelsior Award, given annually to organizations that have a positive effect on the Rock River Valley.
 
Jeff Nielsen, who has served on the Janet Wattles board of directors since 1998, said Ware’s death will be felt outside the Rockford community, too.
 
“Frank had a state and national reputation in the mental health community,” the former Rockford police chief said. “He was a walking encyclopedia of mental health, the challenges, the issues. I remember going to a conference with him when I was president of the board, and everyone wanted to bend his ear.”
 
Nielsen said Ware was always looking ahead at how to meet the next challenge. In 2011, Janet Wattles became affiliated with Rosecrance Inc., a $32 million-a-year organization that treats people with substance-abuse problems.
 
The groups joined forces to help lower costs on goods and services and supplies, and to help both more aggressively pursue grants for such things as prevention and early intervention.
 
When the affiliation became official Jan. 1, Ware became a senior vice president and chief operating officer for mental health for Rosecrance.
 
Rosecrance President/CEO Phil Eaton released a statement this evening about Ware’s death:
 
“(Frank) was tremendously excited about the opportunities presented through the affiliation to improve behavioral health care in this region. He had great plans. I’m humbled by Frank’s passion for service and his commitment to improving treatment and reducing the stigma for people with mental illness. I was honored to have known and worked with him for more than two decades. We will all miss him greatly.”
 
Ware received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Iowa. Before coming to Rockford, Ware served as executive director for the Alliance of Mentally Ill of Rock Island and Mercer counties from 1981 to 1989.
 
He was on the Rockford Mayor’s Homeless Task Force, chairman of the Crime Prevention and Alternative Programs Committee of the Winnebago County Crime and Public Safety Commission and a past recipient of the Gold Bell Award for Mental Health Person of the Year from the Mental Health Association of Illinois.
Posted on 02/17/11 at 11:33 AM

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